Thank you, Julie, for writing to us at Ask an Advisor with your important question. It is excellent that you are interested in surveying your community.
We should say at the outset that there are many ways to do this. Here are some points to consider that will help you determine the best way for you:
A good place to start is to check on past history. What surveys in your community have already been done? Normally, you don’t want to duplicate previous work.
And are you sure there is a need for another survey at this time? This is another good starting question, because you would want to ensure that your survey fills some type of community need.
Then, if you proceed, what is the goal of your survey? What do you want to accomplish? And what do you want to do with the results?
Next, what resources do you have to conduct the survey? That is, do you have a budget, or some dollars to spend in design, execution, and analysis? How much time do you have? And are there others who could help you, by being part of a survey team?
Also, have others in the community expressed the need for as survey like the one you have in mind? If so, some community members could join your study team and help out. If not, can you convince them that your survey is needed? – for as mentioned, a community survey should fulfill a community need of some sort.
Then, what form will your survey take? Who will you be surveying? How can you obtain an accurate and representative sample? And what kind of questions will you ask?
The answers to this and the above questions will likely take some careful thinking and planning; but that is very natural in a project such as this. It can be done! And when you are clear on the answers to these starting questions, we think you will be also clearer on how best to proceed, in a way that works best for you and your community.
For further information, you might want to consult some relevant materials in the Tool Box, such as Chapter 3, which focuses on assessment. Chapter 3, Section 7, on surveys, may be particularly useful. .
We hope some of these thoughts may be helpful to you. Thanks again for being in touch, and all very best wishes for success in your work.